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Are panniers good for college students? Need help quick!!

Old 01-08-08, 07:28 PM
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kmac27
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Are panniers good for college students? Need help quick!!

I can get panniers that will fit everything into them. I need around 2000 cubic inches for all the crap I carry. I carry a chain lock, bike pump, spare tube, multitool, lunch, books, gloves, headskoz, jeans, 2 shirts, rain gear and shoe covers. My backpack is bareley able to accomodate to all the stuff I take to school. Also my back is starting to hate me for carrying 40+ lbs in my bag. Are panniers a pain in the ***** to carry around campus? I'm looking at https://www.rei.com/product/604989

Heres the backpack I am currently using as well https://www.amazon.com/High-Sierra-Sw.../dp/B000H92ZLG

It says it has a 1940 cubic inch capacity. I find that hard to believe. As you fill up one compartment the others become smaller!! I put all muy stuff in a square box that was 1500 cubic inches and everything fit easily!! I guess I just want to know if they are a huge hassle to use. Does anyone have them and how easy is it to carry them around or does it just flat out suck?!?!
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Old 01-08-08, 07:33 PM
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I use one of these and drop my backpack in it. I have it secured to the rack so it won't be taken. Then it's just grab and go with the backpack I like. They are 29 bucks...

https://thebikestand.com/bags.html
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Old 01-08-08, 07:38 PM
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I use a single Ortlieb Back Roller Classic (though I bought a pair from Wayne at the Touring Store) to carry about the same amount of stuff as you, plus a laptop, 15 miles round trip. It works fine for the commute, but you can't really carry a pannier around campus with you all day. You'll be off-balance, and the shoulder strap is only about an inch wide. I leave it in my office and throw whatever I need for class, library, or teaching in a tote bag.
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Old 01-08-08, 08:05 PM
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I guess I'm wondering more specific if they take up too much space during class, for example, if I'm in an auditorium will they take up too much space? I'm a pretty strong guy pretty much 170 lbs of pure muscle. On the panniers I listed, do those straps allow you to carry one around your back and carry the other one in your hand?
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Old 01-08-08, 08:14 PM
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The LBS that has lots of commuting classes for free should have a good selection in rear racks as well as panniers. When buying a pannier for putting lots of weight on it what do I need to watch for?
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Old 01-08-08, 08:25 PM
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I have the Ortlieb bags. Nice bags, good construction. Not really bigger than a standard college backpack.

The straps are a _pile_ of crap. Too narrow and not designed to be carried anywhere (unless you like large, bulky, man-bag-purses or some awkward version of a messenger bag. You can use the handle on the top, but it's attached to the release mechanism, so I don't know how strong it is or whether it should be used for carrying it far. Since I can leave mine in my office, it doesn't really matter to me. I actually wish I could just remove the straps and snap the top directly into the side of the bags.

I'd stick to a backpack. Or if you have the option of a locker, use both.
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Old 01-08-08, 08:45 PM
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Carrying the backpack around isn't that bad but its very heavy and is killing my back even on small rides. Are there any panniers that at least have good handles for carrying them?
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Old 01-08-08, 09:34 PM
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If price is no object, look at the Arkel Bug. 1500 cubic inch pannier that coverts to a backpack. It's very well-designed - you can pack of lot of stuff in there. I got one for Christmas because I was tired of dragging my pannier half a block and up two flights of stairs to my office.

They also offer a
"commuter" pannier with a nice shoulder strap.
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Old 01-08-08, 09:39 PM
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I like the idea of that pannier Junkdad linked that can accommodate a backpack and can be secured to the bike.

Living in Washington, you are inevitably going to ride in conditions that will coat the inner-facing side of the panniers with grime...seems like no fun to pack around a sludge-covered bag from class to class.
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Old 01-08-08, 09:50 PM
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Ortlieb makes a backpack adapter for their back rollers. I haven't tried it, but it might be an option for you.

I'm a grad student, and I typically commute using two Ortlieb back roller plus panniers. I just stick my backpack in one of the panniers, and take it out once I go to class. The other pannier typically contains clothes, food, and a couple of tubes - I just leave all of that stuff on the bike.
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Old 01-08-08, 09:54 PM
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Thats a lot better bag and it looks like the reviews on it are good. I could also get a pannier for the second side if that backpack is not big enough.
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Old 01-08-08, 11:12 PM
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Maybe this won't work for you, but FWIW, I rent a locker on campus and I put my heavy stuff in a pannier (or two), but still carry a mess bag. Then when I get to school, I can ditch everything I don't need in the locker. I've also left the mess bag at the U sometimes, so I just switch when I get there.
For a long time, I had a cheap grocery pannier just zip-tied to my rack and I just left it on my bike when I went to class. No one ever messed with it. I would put the heavy stuff in there and keep the light stuff on my back.
Otherwise, I would suggest a grocery pannier that you can fit your backpack into. You'd better get a good rain cover for it, though...
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Old 01-08-08, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by matthew_deaner View Post
Ortlieb makes a backpack adapter for their back rollers. I haven't tried it, but it might be an option for you.
I've got the Ortlieb backpack adapter and it's not something I would commute with. You have to take it off to put the pannier on the bike, and reattach it after you take the pannier off the bike.

If you've got secure bike parking where you can leave stuff attached to your bike, I'd get one bag that can stay attached to the bike for stuff you don't need during the day, and a messenger bag (or the backpack you have now) for stuff you have to carry with you during the day. Do you really need all that stuff, or is there some way you can trim your load?
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Old 01-09-08, 07:19 AM
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Carradice panniers have good carry handles and shoulder strap fittings.
Maybe you should examine your load: do you have a long ride requiring bike clothing. For <10miles I wear normal stuff.
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Old 01-09-08, 09:17 AM
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The Arkel Bug is a great bag, and you can pack a lot of stuff into it. But for a daypack, I like to have some room to dig around in my bag, not stuffed to the gills. It's hard to take out a notebook or calculator during class when it's stuffed and buried under everything else. It's also noisy and disruptive to be wrestling with a ton of gear in your bag during a lecture.
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Old 01-09-08, 09:59 AM
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I work and commute to a college campus. There are a number of options out there. It just depends on what you prefer. I prefer to carry ALL of my bike repair gear in a seat wedge (spare tube, patch-kit, mini-tool, duct-tape, plastic tire levers), and carry fewer non-bike items than you do in either an expandible trunk-bag (800 to 1200 cu in), or in a medium-to-large messenger bag. But I just carry my work clothes (I wear bike clothes for the longer ride into work), rain gear as needed, and work items. I like the messenger bag for days when I have to carry more than a couple of books or notebooks. I take the seat bag off the bike, and stick it into my carry-bag for walking around campus. No problem.

I can keep a spare pair of shoes at my desk, though. If you have to wear the same shoes all day, I would consider getting toe-clips on your commuter bike, and alternating shoes every other day to let them dry all-the-way out to stay relatively non-stinky.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:37 AM
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I commute with Ortlieb Roller Classics and as mentioned, carrying them around is no fun and can be messy if the weather is bad. You can carry two of them in one hand by the handles, putting them back-to-back. That works for short distances assuming they're not too full and heavy, and it also minimizes the possibility of getting dirt on your clothes (or someone else's).

In addition to the Rollers Ortlieb has other designs that are better for carrying office work equipment around. Other manucafturers too. But I would imagine road grime is a common problem with all panniers, regardless of model and manufacturer.

If it was me, I would probably go Junkdad's route, put the backpack in a cheapish pannier fixed to the bike. Or bungee the backpack directly on the rear rack. Or maybe check out larger saddle bags such as Carradice Longflaps, those may not get as much dirt on them.

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Old 01-09-08, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Juha View Post
Or bungee the backpack directly on the rear rack.
I can't believe it took someone this long to get to this!

If you ride your bike to school and then stash it and walk campus all day this is ABSOLUTELY the best option.

However, if you ride your bike from building to building you can easily get away with keeping your panniers connected to your bike and just taking what you need into the building. I have a friend who did this all through college. Same friend who wore Sidi Dominator 2 MTB shoes every single day, even winter. Between classes he would go back to his bike and trade out books (and even ride to the next building if he had to). He actually evolved his technique in later years to include bungee-ing a small messenger bag folded flat to the top of his rack. Then, when he got to school he would lock his bike up, load his mess bag for the day and walk with it. That way he wouldn't have to revisit the bike throughout the day if, say, he met a cute girl in class that asked him to lunch!

He, of course, lived out of town about 15 miles and would come in and stay all day. He did, on average, 3 classes a day and then would head to work. Usually away from home about 12-14 hours so he had to have EVERYTHING. Easy enough, he'd just load down his panniers!

In fact, he was my inspiration for really getting going with bike commuting as this took place in da UP of Michigan where there are a solid 9 months of winter and temps don't get north of 32degF for the entire time. Oh yeah, and 200 inches of snow on average in town.

Lashing the pack to the rack is great. Panniers with a med. to small mess bag lashed on is money.

Last option I would consider, depending on the bike you ride and how comfortable it is, get a front rack or even a front basket and just haul your pack in it. Simple and effective.
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Old 01-09-08, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by matthew_deaner View Post
Ortlieb makes a backpack adapter for their back rollers. I haven't tried it, but it might be an option for you.
It's rubbish. Go for the Arkel Bug if you want a backpack. I have both and never use the Ortleib attachment, although I use the Bug a lot.
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Old 01-09-08, 01:06 PM
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I third (fourth? fifth?) JunkDad's suggestion. For walking around, nothing is going to be as comfortable as a real backpack, and for biking, nothing is going to be as comfortable as being able to stash your stuff on the rear rack. You can look for a combination solution, but storing your backpack on the rear rack gives you the best of both worlds. I also work with someone who has a milk crate attached to her rear rack. It seems like that would work as well. Drop the bag in, and you're on your way. The only thing that might be as good is, as has already been suggested, if you had a location where you could dump some unnecessary stuff. Then perhaps you could just carry one pannier around and leave one stashed, but really I would favor the backpack on the rear rack approach.
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Old 01-09-08, 02:14 PM
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...and if you do tie down a backpack, consider getting a bungee cargo net for the task.
I have a small one I got from REI, and a bigger Bell one from the motorcycle department at Wal-Mart.
A fully loaded backpack really demands the bigger one.
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Old 01-15-08, 10:59 PM
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I got my ORTLIEBS!!! So I went to the shop to check out bikes and basically went crazy.

bike $700
speedplay pedals $120
specialized shoes $60
rear rack $40
panniers $130

Ok onto the point. I saw the bags and opened them up and wow I was amazed at the size of them. The manager said you could easily put 2 grocery bags in them lol. I have been using them for a week now and my back is loving me. Carrying them around on campus isn't that bad I just alternate which shoulder is doing the carrying while carrying the lighter bag in my hand. I get weird looks sometimes but I don't mind. I got the red ones so my friend says I look like the pizza delivery guy.

I also got clipless pedals for the first time and I can't believe I waited so long to get them!!
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Old 01-16-08, 11:45 AM
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I used a pannier all through college and had no problems with it in class. Just like a back pack except you carry it instead of slinging it over your shoulder. I think Nashbar had one that turned into a backpack which would be the best of both worlds.
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Old 01-16-08, 05:43 PM
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I use this one https://tinyurl.com/yl6cks from Performance Bike. I got it on sale for $29.99 over the holidays. I keep my pump, tools, coffee thermos, newspaper, lunch, gloves, lock, etc. in it with no problem. It has a handle and a strap to sling over your shoulder. I'm extremely happy with it. I also use a bungee hooked to the rack for added security so it doesn't jump around.
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